5-story Tokyo spa resort offers various modes of relaxation, stays open overnight
By HANA KUSUMOTO | Stars and Stripes | Published: August 2, 2018
In Japan, one doesn’t need to travel far to enjoy the many natural hot springs — or onsens in Japanese — the country has to offer. In fact, it is commonly said that digging 1,000 meters underground anywhere on the volcanic island will lead to a hot spring.
Onsens are commonly associated with remote or rural locations — like the mountains or small seaside towns. Luckily, visitors to Tokyo don’t have to travel far (or dig deep) to treat themselves with a rejuvenating trip to an onsen.
Spa LaQua, conveniently located in Tokyo Dome City in central Tokyo, is a five-story complex that includes various onsens, saunas, spas and three different restaurants. The facility offers a quick getaway from the crowds of baseball fans and amusement park-goers that dominate the area.
Soaking in mineral-rich hot springs is a popular pastime in Japan, due to its relaxing and therapeutic properties. The sodium chloride found in the water is said to help increase circulation, speed recovery from exhaustion, ease joint pain and help moisturize skin.
It is easy to spend an entire day inside the resort, which is decorated with palm trees and a tropical-inspired straw-roofed lounge. Spa LaQua is especially popular with the late-night crowd as it stays open overnight and offers a lounge area with reclining chairs — the perfect place to sleep in case you miss your last train home.
Spa LaQua, like most onsens and pools in Japan, prohibits patrons with tattoos from using the facilities. Onsen etiquette requires patrons to shower before entering the bath, and to keep hair and towels out of the water. Wearing bathing suits or other articles of clothing are also not permitted — so be prepared to go au naturale during your visit. (Don’t worry, the facilities are separated by gender.)
Admission for adults is 2,850 yen (about $25) and includes the use of all facilities, except for the stone sauna and salons. An additional 1,944-yen fee is required for stays between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. A bath towel, basic toiletries and spa wear are provided. Ladies can also pay an extra 100 yen to visit the cosmetics bar — a dream for makeup lovers, as it is stocked with a variety of foundations, eyeshadows, lip creams, lipsticks and eyeliners.
Purchases made inside the facilities — such as add-on spa treatments and meals — are done via a cashless system. Patrons receive a chip-enabled bracelet upon admission and pay the balance upon leaving the onsen.
In the women’s onsen area, there are many pools to choose from — including a large indoor pool; a deeper, higher-temperature pool; a foot onsen; a sauna; and a jacuzzi. In the outdoor area, which is surrounded by privacy barriers, there are three smaller onsen to soak in while listening to sounds of the nearby amusement park or of Tokyo Giants fans on baseball game nights.
My favorite hot spring was the milky soda onsen — a carbonated spring, which reportedly improves skin and metabolism, located on the terrace of the women’s area.
On this trip to the Spa LaQua, I decided to splurge with a spa treatment in one of the nine on-site beauty salons. Booking a spa treatment requires visiting the fifth-floor reception area and scheduling an appointment.
After soaking in the onsen for 20 minutes, I headed to the Aqua Treatment Avantage spa — a women-only facility inside Spa LaQua — where I received a Korean body scrub (4,320 yen for 30 minutes). The Korean body scrub involves intense body exfoliation.
After the treatment, I felt lighter and more awake. Other treatments in the spa’s many salons include aroma oil massage (6,350 yen for 40 minutes) or shiatsu massage (starting at 2,160 yen for 20 minutes).
For an additional 864 yen, visitors can also check out the stone saunas called Healing Baden on the eighth and ninth floors of the building. Here, visitors can choose from a variety of low-temperature stone saunas. Each provides a different benefit — such as detoxification, anti-aging and natural medicinal properties.
If sitting in a sauna isn’t your thing, Spa LaQua contains multiple lounge areas where visitors can watch television, read manga (Japanese comic books), indulge in a drink or simply rest. The relax lounge has reclining chairs and sofas and blankets.
When you consider all the services offered at Spa LaQua, it is easy to see how one might quickly spend a lot of money and time here — but it is worth the visit. Taking a dip in the onsen, enjoying a massage and relaxing with friends or alone make for a great way to enjoy an escape from the hectic life in the big city.
DIRECTIONS: 1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku Tokyo. Spa LaQua is located within Tokyo Dome City, which is accessible via the JR Chuo and Sobu lines and Toei Mita line at Suidobashi Station (a 5-minute walk); via the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi or Nanboku lines at Korakuen Station (a 1-minute walk); or the Toei Oedo line at Kasuga Station (a 2-minute walk). The check-in counter is located on the sixth floor of the building.
TIMES: Open 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. the next day. Indoor baths close at 8:30 a.m. and outdoor baths close at 7:30 a.m. Last entry is at 8 a.m. Children ages 17 and under can use the facilities 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last entry at 3 p.m. Children 5 and under are prohibited. Spa LaQua has irregular closing days, so check the website for more details.
COSTS: Admission is 2,850 yen (about $25) for adults. Admission for children ages 6 through 17 is 2,052 yen. All children must have a chaperone, with children ages 6 to 11 requiring a chaperone of the same gender. Use of the facilities between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. requires an additional 1,944-yen charge. Admission is increased by 324 yen on Saturdays, Sundays and Japanese holidays. Add-on treatments and food cost extra.
FOOD: Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants, as well as cafe services, are available.